A TWO-hour urgent community response, one of a range of new initiatives from Airedale NHS Foundation Trust, will aim to help keep people well at home and reduce pressure on hospital services, health bosses say.

The Collaborative Care team is available 24/7, seven days a week and is made up of a range of healthcare professionals: community nurses, advanced clinical practitioners, urgent community response practitioners, health care support workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and mental health workers.

The Trust says the main aim of all the medical staff concerned is focussing on being able to treat the patient at home without the need of a hospital visit by taking the care and expertise directly to them. So far the initiative has seen a successful start.

The team can assess any patient over the age of 18 within two hours of receiving a referral from a GP, community matron, district nurses or ambulance service or from the Trust’s own emergency department or acute assessment unit. Referrals are made to the team if the patient is safe enough to be at home but needs some extra support.

Common conditions that can be seen by the two-hour response service include long term conditions where the patient has become acutely ill, falls with no sign of injury, reduced function, mobility or confusion, palliative care support or an urgent need for equipment.

Sarah Emsley, Urgent Community Response Practitioner at Airedale NHS Foundation Trust said: “As soon as we receive a referral we make contact with the patient to explain our service and to say that we would visit in two hours, because time is critical. At the visit we do a full assessment of their needs to see whether we can keep them safely at home.

“During the next 48 hours we can arrange continued support if they need help to recover and increase their independence, or if it’s a long term need then we would work with our partners in social care or with one of many voluntary services. This might be Carers' Resource or Safe and Sound. They would help the patient have a pendant alarm fitted. If they were in any danger or might fall, they can press that button and get help when they need it.”

“One of our patients has COPD and had an exacerbation of his condition and was at risk of needing to be admitted to hospital so our respiratory nurse assessed him and asked us if we would visit him to help keep him at home.

"We managed to help him at home and we identified other needs for example he was struggling with his mobility and everyday tasks so we worked with him to try and overcome his breathing issues.

"All of that happened within two weeks and he never needed to come into the hospital which was what mattered to him.”

Sarah added: “In May alone we saw 115 patients and we’ve helped 93 per cent of those patients to stay at home without the need for an admission."